Monday, August 24, 2015

One last summer hurrah

Last weekend, DL and I decided to take a long weekend so I could see for the first time the 135-mile Denali Highway. Before the Parks Highway, which is today the main thoroughfare between Fairbanks and Anchorage, was built, the mostly unpaved, rutted, and washboarded Denali Highway was the only way for tourists to get to Denali. It was opened in 1957, after the advent of cars with a reasonably long range. So, unlike the much older Richardson Highway, which originated as a wagon road and thus required frequent guest houses, road houses, and places to stay, the Denali has... great views interspersed with a whole lotta nothin.

We started our trip by rousing the ladies off the couch:

And by heading down the Richardson Highway to Paxson Lake. I had only visited to let the girls pee and drink water before. Thought I'd like to stay there for a night. The campground is owned and maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, which maintains cushy campgrounds with potable water, well-lit, clean, and well-ventilated outhouses, and volunteer camp hosts who are usually bored and lonely and pounce on you for a chat.

When Autumn and Linden were younger, I used to have to tie them up at campgrounds as they'd grow bored and take off on self-guided tours. No longer. Starbuck never wanders off either, despite her relative youth:

The lingonberries were ripe, so I picked a bunch of 'em for our morning oatmeal. California dried apricots from a care package from BT rounded out breakfast:

The girls each found their own spot from which to observe proceedings:

The Denali Highway was... scenic and hypnotic. Almost every lake or pond had a big beaver lodge:

Storms rolled in and out, but fortunately we didn't get rained on:

We passed a very few official lodges. The subsistence hunt had already opened, so there were quite a few hunters, standing around with their binoculars, scanning for caribou. Most of them had already set up what I took to be less-than-scenic, but serviceable campgrounds, mostly in gravel pits and shoulders right off the highway. A few privately-owned spots offered some slightly more sheltered camp spots and presumably coffee. I liked that this one had a human lodge right next to a beaver lodge:

At some point, we crossed the Susitna River:

Early that evening, even after a late morning start that included sleeping in until 9 and taking the girls for a leisurely walk after packing up camp, we found that we were already at our next camp site, at Brushkana Creek. Across the creek, we could see an old cabin that was in the process of being washed into it:


The next morning, we realized that we'd hit the Parks Highway and the Civilized World very quickly, so we again started our morning with a long walk. Autumn rallied and covered the 5 miles with no wobbliness. Starbuck visited the "day use" enclosure, which featured a brick-lined fire pit and a view to the creek:

A few hours into our drive, we stopped at this pond for lunch, which featured a rather intimidating view of the Alaska Range:

And this lovely one of Denali:

Starbuck held out her paw for me to hold, so I asked DL to take a photo so I could pretend that a historic agreement between Man and Wolf was taking place in the view of Denali. However, Starbuck looks so meek, it looks more like I am coercing her into reluctant agreement, like selling me the island of Manhattan for two Milk Bones:

Three of my favorite things: DL, sammiches, and Alaskan views:

When we got home, Starbuck found an old rawhide and immediately resumed her position on the couch:


mdr said...

:-) :-) :-)

B said...

Looks beautiful and relaxing.

e. davis said...

What an enjoyable looking getaway -scenic & tranquil. Happy to see that the senior ladies were up for it :) BTW- Any termination dust yet?

Arvay said...

@e. davis: Plenty!